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Running Back Depth Shows In Preseason Opener

If the first preseason game is a precursor for what lies ahead, then the Washington Redskins' backfield has some serious potential.

Third-year veteran Alfred Morris got things going for a rushing attack that would run for 177 yards with 18 yards on the first drive. Fourth-year player Roy Helu Jr. would spell Morris and carry the ball five times for 14 yards while also adding 23 receiving yards on two receptions.

The Washington Redskins hosted the New England Patriots for the 2014 preseason home opener at FedExField on Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014.

The second quarter gave way to 2013 fifth-round draft pick Chris Thompson and Evan Royster before rookies Silas Redd and Lache Seastrunk carried the way during the second half.

Thompson got a mix of outside runs and inside ones, and said it was good to get reps at both.

"I ran the power today," Thompson said. "I ran inside zone, outside zone, caught the ball out of the backfield (as well). I played maybe six plays or so – there's a lot going on in this offense."

Another plus for Thompson was getting in some game action for the first time since a season-ending injury suffered late last year.

"That in itself is a work in progress and that just comes with reps," Thompson said when asked about his return to the field. "You have to have a different tempo for your outside runs and your inside runs, and I'm still working with it."

The two rookies complemented each other beautifully during the third and fourth quarters, as Seastrunk recorded several long runs thanks to his elite speed, while Redd lowered his shoulder into multiple New England Patriots defenders on runs designed to go straight up the gut.

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Both impressed first-year head coach Jay Gruden.

"You know, Redd between the tackles, he's a good power runner," Gruden told the media after the game. "He's got great vision. He's shown (that) in practice so far and we want to see him carry it over into the game and it did (in the game).

"Lache is obviously known for his big-play ability. He popped a couple again today. You know, I had to show him that much in practice, but you can't really tell in practice because it's just a thud. But it's good to see him get out there."

Seastrunk – listed as the No. 6 running back on the team's first unofficial depth chart – was the last running back to enter the game.

Admitting that he was anxious to get out on the field and prove himself, Seastrunk bottled up his patience and turned it into a very solid night.

"Patience is a virtue," Seastrunk said after the game. "I had to wait two years in college (and) I might have to wait for my chance here. But the only thing I can do is to continue to be patient and continue to learn the playbook and continue to learn my plays and do what I do best."

Signed by the Redskins as a college free agent in May, Redd said one of the reasons he was so effective between the tackles was due to the fact he has a full understanding of the playbook.

When he's out on the field, his focus is on showcasing his talents opposed to having to run through what he has to do in the scheme in his head.

"I like to do it all and I just try to showcase that every chance I get," Redd said. "They threw a lot at us as rookies, and we're expected to know everything when we get into the game and I think I understand the offense pretty well and that allows me to play fast out there."

So what's ahead for the running backs?

Well for someone like Morris – a 2013 Pro Bowler – it shows that you can't be complacent.

"(Other teams) might be undervaluing the running back, but we definitely have a nice stable of backs here," Morris told Larry Michael, the Voice of the Redskins. "We got close to 200 yards on the ground (in the game), so it was pretty impressive.

"The young guys – Silas and Seastrunk – they did a great job of showing what they can do and just pushing us vets to work that much harder. I think it's going to be good in the long run."

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